One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
In the extremes of life, everything we experience takes on an extreme flavor. When we are full, we despise what we normally enjoy; when we are hungry, we relish what we typically would reject as bitter. The need dictates the experience.
The one who is full has no one to blame but himself. He makes himself full by giving into his impulses. Because he cannot resist the honey, he satiates himself until he loathes the honey he craved. The who is hungry finds sweetness in what is normally is bitter because his body craves nourishment. His taste buds acclimate to the bitter in order to satisfy the hunger.
Neither state is good. Though the satiated person has only himself to blame and the hungry person perhaps has circumstances to fault, neither are in good positions. It is better that the hungry person obtains nourishing food, and it is good to be able to enjoy honey. And it is better not to be overly stimulated and satiated with rich food. What is most desirable is disciplined enjoyment of what one earns. It is best to work for one’s food and obtain the sweet, and then to enjoy it in a measured manner that keeps the sweet from turning bitter.
Thus, the proverb cautions against the philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry that leads to bitterness, and that of the sluggard whose laziness leaves him ever hungry.